TopKayaker.Net: Guide To Kayak Diving


Mark Theobald

Entry and exit through surf
is so much easier.

It's easy to reach sites far away
from your entry point.

You can stay warm and dry
before and after the dive.

There's no exhausting surface swim.

It's easy to approach certain
types of sea life.

Current and rips are no problem
for the kayaker.

You can get into tight places
that boats wouldn't dare.

Your surface support craft is always
near-by, especially when drift diving.

It's easy to take along an
extra tank or two.

The kayak provides a place to
rest between dives.

There's more social time
during the dive excursion.

It's easy to bring back
game or salvaged items, like anchors.

You have an anchor line to descend and ascend on.

The kayak allows the use of SONAR and GPS equipment.

Paddling provides the upper body
workout that diving doesn't.

No high cost of boat ownership
and maintenance.

The kayak goes on top of your
economy car, no assembly required.

Except for parking fees
and air-fills, it's free.

Kayak Diving - Before You Dive
By  Mark Theobald

Valuable Beginner Tips from the author of "Kayak Diving, The Complete Guide..." and founder of "KayakDiving.com" No photos or text to be copied or reprinted without permission) 

For me, one of the main advantages of kayak diving is simply that it gets you out there. KAYAK DIVERS DIVE MORE than any other group of sport divers that I know of. For many of us that's nearly every weekend.

The problem, however, is that as divers we want to dive. We DON'T want to go paddling around in the harbor or playing in the surf. No, we just want to get on this thing and go out and do it!

At Tom's
TopKayaker Shop:

cargo straps
Large Selection of Dive Supplies including mounting hardware, flags, anchors, and Cargo Straps: The strap with many uses! Elastic tubular webbing straps with brass clips and paddle holder. Sold as pairs. 18" relaxed, stretches to 30". Clips to strap eyes mounted along cargo well.

And so..., off we do go to kayak dive, with little or no experience in paddling a kayak, through heavy surf, or in fast moving currents, totally unaccustomed to the stability characteristics of our craft, and unaware of our abilities to handle the prevailing winds and currents.

Too often we'll learn that a few hours of (kayak skill building and practice) would have made the difference between losing and not losing dive gear.

Before Your Dive, Tip #1
Approach your kayaking training with the same discipline as your dive training.

If you don't intend to put in and take out inside a surf zone then maybe you don't need to practice surf entries and exits. However, playing in the surf will teach you a lot about the handling of your kayak.

For instance, you'll learn pretty quickly that you must always brace toward the outside, and how to avoid 'endos'. Either way, you should practice getting on and off your kayak in deep water. Try rolling the kayak over. Also try moving all about on your kayak to see where the balance points are. Play a little game of bumper boats with your buddies. This is the best game for improving your paddling and maneuvering abilities. (For basic, right to the point, sit-on-top kayak basics, get Tom Holtey's "Sit-on-top Kayaking, A Beginner's Guide.")

Before Your Dive, Tip #2
The "Dive" Kayak is a Sit-on-top Kayak.

OK! Let's take a look at a dive kayak. First and foremost, it is a SIT-ON-TOP. Of course, this means that you can easily get off and on in deep water. Paddlers no longer need to fear being trapped inside their kayak.

The dive kayak will have a suitable place to stow a scuba tank and weight-belt. These heaviest pieces of dive gear MUST be secured so well that it is as though they are part of the hull itself. In surf, you must literally be prepared to watch your kayak roll up onto the beach without you, and, hopefully, without losing any gear in the process. Sure, we try to avoid these mishaps, but, believe me, they still happen occasionally, even to the best of us.

Before You Dive Tip #3

Attach everything. Dive kayaks are not born perfect!

You will almost certainly need to make some additions to your kayak to turn it into the ultimate dive platform. Mostly, you may need to add additional eyelets to the deck in strategically located places to provide for the needs of the kayak diver.

These eyelets will provide bungee-cord and tether points to allow you to better secure your tank in the rear, your gear bag up front, or to make redundant connections to your anchor line. The tether is a short section of strong rope with a swivel-snap at one end and a loop at the other.

The tether is secured to an eyelet on the deck and is used to keep various pieces of dive gear from departing without you during the dive excursion. Also, to secure your weight-belt, or to hold your hatch cover on more securely.

Most importantly, keep your hatches, and everything else that doesn't float, secured whenever you are not holding on to them.

During a good roll in the surf (as opposed to a bad one???), you wouldn't want your weight-belt to knock a hatch cover out of position and disappear into the depths. Also, one of the most important tethers is the one you will use to keep your tank and BC floating next to your kayak before and after your dive.

Dive kayaksAnother important tether is used to secure your goody-bag or gear bag containing the smaller pieces of dive gear, such as your knife, compass, mask, etc.

You will need some way of securing your paddle during the dive. A clip on the deck is handy. Also very important is to have a way to secure your pole-spear or spear-gun so that it won't be lost or injure someone during the entry or exit. All the hunters in our group use pole-spears, and most use a capped PVC pipe to contain the spear-tip during transit. If you are just going to strap or bungee your pole-spear or spear-gun to the side of your kayak, you should, at least, remove the spear tip during transit.

Related articles by Mark: 1: Before You Dive
2: Getting In With Your Gear On
3: The Dive

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